The week that was… Natural learning

Unschooling week

Welcome to another week! It’s only a week and a half until Christmas now! I can’t believe it. What have you been up to in the lead up? We’ve been doing a little Christmas crafting but this week has mainly been about maths, maths, maths, as you will see…

Unschooling week

Some dinosaurs getting weighed by Miss 3.

Unschooling week

An elephant made by my 3 year old! She was down in the play room by herself one afternoon crafting this up. I love seeing her concentration on her own ideas.

Unschooling week

There’s always a lot of pretend play happening. This week there were apparently some dolls that needed a bath…

Unschooling week

And as you might have seen there was also some fairy play with the little felt house.

Unschooling week

This week the girls spent a day at their Aunty’s house busily crafting. They made lots of things, amongst them these decorations for the tree made from modelling clay.

Unschooling week

 Miss 5 bought me the cuisenaire rods and asked if I could play a maths game with her. If you’re not familiar with these, there are 10 sizes of rods representing the numbers 1-10. A while ago we made up a game where I would make a number and she would tell me what it was and then make it on her abacus. This game is too easy for her now, so I told her I would make 2 numbers and she could add them together and tell me the answer. I gave her no other instructions. You can see in the picture above that I made the numbers 35 and 25. She immediately moved the rods around, putting the tens together and the ones together and gave me the answer.

Unschooling week

We did lots more and each time she found the answer easily. This was so great for helping her understand how to easily add big numbers by adding the tens first and then the ones. It was interesting to see how she was able to work out how to do it without any instruction from me. She commented to me at one point that she always arranges the ones with the biggest number first because it’s easier to add them that way. I can see how it will eventually translate to her being able to do the sums in her head. Soon she was no longer even moving the rods around, just looking at them and telling me the answer.

Unschooling week

At times she used her 100’s chart to help her add the numbers, and remind herself what they looked like written down.

Unschooling week

She kept asking for harder and harder problems and wanting me to try and ‘trick’ her. I used more rods so that she would have to continue counting over one hundred as she has never counted by tens past one hundred before. After I told her how the numbers kept going just the same, only adding the ‘hundred’ in front, she was very excited!

Unschooling week

Now she wanted to count by tens all the way to one thousand! The only problem was we didn’t have enough rods for that. I suggested she could use her abacus and count each bead as ten. She was excited! And with a few drink breaks she did it and was very proud of herself.

Unschooling week

She was keen to try more and more difficult problems and so I started writing the sums down for her instead of making the numbers. That meant she was looking at the written sum, making both the numbers with the rods, adding them together, and then writing down the answer. That was quickly mastered so we moved on to subtraction. When she was satisfied she could do that she asked for something different. I suggested multiplication, wondering if this would be too difficult. We had talked about it before but that was a while ago. Of course, she was keen to give it a go!

Unschooling week

I wrote down some problems for her and explained what the ‘x’ sign meant. I wasn’t quite sure myself the best way to use the rods to work these out but I left it up to her and she figured it out quickly. Here she is doing 3 x 8. She has lined up the 8 (brown) rods end to end. To find the answer she used the other rods to measure. You can see she has got two 10’s (orange) and a 4 (pink) to find the answer of 24.

 Yep, by now I was really amazed. And this is why I love natural learning so much. When a spark is lit, there is no stopping them. When they are really ready there is no need to make them learn anything, they just breeze through it. When they’re ready. All of this was over 2 days and it hasn’t stopped yet. I can’t wait to see what she does next!

Unschooling week

Of course, with all this maths going on it was inevitable that Miss 3 would want to join in too. She has always enjoyed numbers and been able to recognise all of the numerals since she was two. She started by using the small Spielgaben sticks to match numbers on cards. This was too simple for her so we had to think of something else.

Unschooling week

She ended up using the same materials to do some simple addition of her own. She counted out the number of sticks for each card, then pushed them together and counted them altogether. She proudly told me the answer and exclaimed ‘Too easy! How ya gonna trick me now?’ So, looks like I’ll have to be coming up with something else for her too!

Unschooling week

At the end of the week we had to take the dog to the vet to have a look at his sore ear. We all tagged along thinking that this would be a great opportunity for learning. And we were right! The girls asked a lot of questions. When the vet took a swab from his ear and started preparing a slide the girls told her that they knew that that was a slide and all about their microscope and the slides they have at home.

Unschooling week

They were then lucky enough to be invited out the back to have a look through the microscope themselves! They loved it! I love so much when people are open to talking to children and answering their many questions. It’s such a valuable experience for them.

Unschooling week

And what’s our littlest lady been learning this week? To stand up in the middle of the floor all by herself without pulling up on anything! We think we might have a walker here before her first birthday. Look out world!

It’s been a very fun week full of learning here. What’s been happening at your place?

Don’t forget to hop over to Memoirs of a Childhood, Racheous – Lovable Learning, HippyHappyMama, and An Everyday Story to see all the lovely learning they’ve been up to!

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Materials we’re using this week

  • The scales the girls are using are from here.
  • The beautiful felt fairy house is from A Charlie Horse Toys.
  • I think these are the Cuisenaire Rods that we have. You can also find lots on Amazon. I highly recommend them! They are so so useful.
  • Miss 3 is using the Spielgaben sticks for her maths.

10 thoughts on “The week that was… Natural learning

  1. Pingback: Weekly Excerpts: Goodbyes and Hellos | Memoirs of a Childhood

  2. So much MATHS!!! I still don’t think I understand how she figures it out so quickly by looking at those rods, it’s amazing! She was obviously so ready to learn and understand it. I also love that both girls wanted to keep challenging themselves and taking it to the next level. And little darling learning to stand! – she’ll be walking before Daisy does lol

  3. Woah how neat!! It’s so interesting seeing it all unfold hey? And how much fun to think the littlest miss will be walking soon!! Exciting times at your house 🙂

  4. Amazing week! I love natural learning so so much. We shouldn’t push or limit children by arbitrary schedules for who learns what when. At the school district where I used to teach (US) they wanted all classrooms of each grade on the same page in the same textbook at the same time. It was a nightmare. I’m so happy I get the opportunity to teach my kids in a way I never could have in a traditional classroom. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

  5. WOW. Thank you so much for sharing all your math work. It’s so inspiring! Our cuisinaire rods haven’t been out in a while; I think it’s time to pull them back out and see what they inspire.

  6. Pingback: Simple Maths Provocations

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